Mini-ITX high-end gaming rig

Hello,

After a long time away from building my own machines, I decided to build a mini-ITX system. I will be mostly gaming at 1080P, doing games dev and general programming. Next year I will get a 1440P monitor. Money aren't important, the overall size is however. I need it to be as small as possible as I travel abroad regularly. Due to airport regulations, I need an air cooler over water cooling.

I got the following list of comportments and questions:
CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K
Motherboard: Asus Maximus Impact
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14
RAM: Need suggestion for 16GBs in Dual Channel
SSD: Corsair M500 480GBs
GPU: Asus GTX 780 or the 780 Ti -which is worth it more?
PSU: Again need suggestions.
Case: I was thinking Fractal Designs 304. Any smaller cases that can fit my rig?

Thanks a lot for all the help.
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  1. The Fractal Design Node 304 is probably among the smallest cases you will find to get what you need in. The issue is that most cases of this size have (at least) one major compromise to get them to the right size. In the case of the Node, it's the lack of an ODD. For a lot of ITX cases, it's a very limited CPU cooler height.
    The only other case that seems like it might fit the bill is the Antec ISK-600 and I haven't seen enough info on that to form much of an opinion yet. The EVGA Hadron air is certainly worth a think if you want to get things as compact as possible, though it'd require a rethink on the cooler/graphics card front.

    There isn't much to say about your build itself. It's very expensive, and things like the i7, 16Gb of ram and the Impact are all of questionable value in a pure gaming machine. If your other uses are going to milk some more value, then it's your call really.
    There isn't much of a reason to go for a GTX780Ti over a GTX780. Obviously at 1080P both are pretty big overkill, and at 1440P either should be pretty competant. At this level, you are pretty heavily into diminishing returns in terms of spending, so it's going to be hard to justify the pretty huge price gap between them. Having said that, if you have the budget and are happy to spend it, you could make a case for the Ti having a potentially greater lifespan.
    Memory is memory really. It depends where you are and what price things are available for. I'd stick with 1.5V and CAS8/9. Obviously a quicker speed is nice, but paying a premium for say a 2133Mhz kit is unlikely to make economic sense. 1600Mhz is the baseline really, and you should find 1866Mhz kits for not dramatically more. It's not going to be a huge performance differentiator.
    PSU is a tiny bit tricky because a lot of higher end PSUs exceed 160mm in length. The obvious pick would be something like the Antec HCG-620M. If you want something a bit fancier, the SeaSonic SSR-650RM should also work.
  2. Rammy said:
    The Fractal Design Node 304 is probably among the smallest cases you will find to get what you need in. The issue is that most cases of this size have (at least) one major compromise to get them to the right size. In the case of the Node, it's the lack of an ODD. For a lot of ITX cases, it's a very limited CPU cooler height.
    The only other case that seems like it might fit the bill is the Antec ISK-600 and I haven't seen enough info on that to form much of an opinion yet. The EVGA Hadron air is certainly worth a think if you want to get things as compact as possible, though it'd require a rethink on the cooler/graphics card front. .

    Any recommendations on the cooler?

    Rammy said:
    There isn't much to say about your build itself. It's very expensive, and things like the i7, 16Gb of ram and the Impact are all of questionable value in a pure gaming machine. If your other uses are going to milk some more value, then it's your call really. .

    I am doing a few things which use HT and are memory intensive, including VMs. I am selling my laptop, so it should cover any costs...

    Rammy said:
    There isn't much of a reason to go for a GTX780Ti over a GTX780. Obviously at 1080P both are pretty big overkill, and at 1440P either should be pretty competant. At this level, you are pretty heavily into diminishing returns in terms of spending, so it's going to be hard to justify the pretty huge price gap between them. Having said that, if you have the budget and are happy to spend it, you could make a case for the Ti having a potentially greater lifespan.

    I guess the normal 780 should be fine.

    Rammy said:
    Memory is memory really. It depends where you are and what price things are available for. I'd stick with 1.5V and CAS8/9. Obviously a quicker speed is nice, but paying a premium for say a 2133Mhz kit is unlikely to make economic sense. 1600Mhz is the baseline really, and you should find 1866Mhz kits for not dramatically more. It's not going to be a huge performance differentiator..

    Kk. Thank you!

    Rammy said:
    PSU is a tiny bit tricky because a lot of higher end PSUs exceed 160mm in length. The obvious pick would be something like the Antec HCG-620M. If you want something a bit fancier, the SeaSonic SSR-650RM should also work.

    EVGA Haldron comes with a 500W PSU. If I go with the Haldron, will 500W be enough?

    Thanks for all the help! :)
  3. If you go with the Hadron Air, there are a few negatives, though it is a really nice case.
    • It can fit a GTX780/780Ti/Titan, but the clearance is a couple of mm. It's designed to cover these and no more. This is great for keeping it compact, but it means that if you pick a custom PCB/cooler 780 for example, it might be a couple of mm longer and this will cause issues. You need to check compatibility very closely - max GPU length is 267mm.
    • The max CPU cooler height is 139mm. This rules out your standard high end 140mm fan coolers, and even 120mm fans (as far as I can tell). You can either go down the low profile route, or stick with a shorter tower cooler like the Hyper TX3 (92mm fans). I personally would go for something like the TX3 and get a couple of high quality fans to go on it (assuming clearance is fine).
    • The 500W PSU is a potential limitation, though not a huge concern. The theoretical "base" power consumption before you overclock is somewhere around 350W (assuming an i7 and a GTX780) which in theory gives you decent headroom. In an ATX system, this might be a bit dubious, but in a system this small, you have a lot less things to draw power and a lot less scope for overclocking due to lesser airflow and CPU cooler. It should be absolutely fine given the other limitations of the system, but if you decide to go with a different case then I'd definitely recommend going for something like the PSUs I originally suggested. They have a bit more wattage, but they also have some modular cables (which can't hurt when space is limited) and in another case, such as the Node, you might be able to exploit a bit more wattage too.


    If size is your main goal, the Hadron is pretty amazing given what it can pack in. You can even add a slim ODD if you want. The downside is it's expensive for what it is (though I guess so is the Node) and you will lose a little on the performance spectrum, though not a dramatic amount. While I'm on the subject of value, the i7 and 16Gb of ram are certainly justifiable costs, but I'd still be dubious on the Maximus Impact. It's awesome, and I want one, but I know I'd never buy one when you can get a board of similar capability for near to half the price. If you don't need the sound card or some of its other premium features, then you are really just paying for the Maximus brand and a paint job.

    It's probably not terribly relevant as I've covered things fairly specifically, but if you decide you want to rethink things, here's a link that I put together for reference, might be useful.
    Building an ITX system. Information and FAQ
    ITX BuildsThere have been an ever increasing number of questions regarding ITX builds, and given my interest in the topic I have been answering quite a lot of them. My aim with this guide is to type less, and hopefully cover more ground. I aim for this... Read More
  4. MoBo: MSI Z87I Gaming AC
    GPU: MSI 760 ITX
    CPU: Intel i7 4770k
    Cooling: Noctua L9I
    SSD: ADATA XPG SX910
    RAM: Corsair 16GB DDR3 1866 MHz
    HDD: HGST Travelstar 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6GB/s 32M
    PSU: Silverstone Tek 450-Watts SFX
    Case: Lian Li PC TU100 (silver or black)
  5. Try the Cooler Master Elite 130, it will fit a full sized ATX PSU:

    http://www.coolermaster.com/case/mini-itx-elite-series/elite130/

    Or if you want as small as possible, the only thing which I can think of that would be tiny and still fit a full (ish) size graphics card is the Silverstone SG06:

    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=277

    The only issue with this case is that you may need to use a dremel to get a reference 780 to fit.
  6. tshrjain said:
    MoBo: MSI Z87I Gaming AC
    GPU: MSI 760 ITX
    CPU: Intel i7 4770k
    Cooling: Noctua L9I
    SSD: ADATA XPG SX910
    RAM: Corsair 16GB DDR3 1866 MHz
    HDD: HGST Travelstar 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6GB/s 32M
    PSU: Silverstone Tek 450-Watts SFX
    Case: Lian Li PC TU100 (silver or black)

    GTX760 is a pretty huge step down from a GTX780/780Ti.

    Anonymous said:
    Try the Cooler Master Elite 130, it will fit a full sized ATX PSU:

    http://www.coolermaster.com/case/mini-itx-elite-series/elite130/

    Or if you want as small as possible, the only thing which I can think of that would be tiny and still fit a full (ish) size graphics card is the Silverstone SG06:

    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=277

    The only issue with this case is that you may need to use a dremel to get a reference 780 to fit.

    The issue with the Elite 130 (for this build) is cooler compatibility. You won't get any kind of tower cooler in, let alone the NH-D14 he wanted. It's a nice case, but if you don't need an ODD but want the CPU cooler height, the Node (despite being vastly more expensive) is much more suitable. The SG06 is a similar story (PSU over motherboard), plus its SFX PSU only, and neither are brilliant on the airflow front.
  7. Rammy said:
    tshrjain said:
    MoBo: MSI Z87I Gaming AC
    GPU: MSI 760 ITX
    CPU: Intel i7 4770k
    Cooling: Noctua L9I
    SSD: ADATA XPG SX910
    RAM: Corsair 16GB DDR3 1866 MHz
    HDD: HGST Travelstar 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6GB/s 32M
    PSU: Silverstone Tek 450-Watts SFX
    Case: Lian Li PC TU100 (silver or black)

    GTX760 is a pretty huge step down from a GTX780/780Ti.


    Well it is, but this card is specifically made for compact cases. And gaming experience pretty good too with most of the settings being Ultra High on latest games like BF4 (with HBAO and AA off).
  8. Yeah absolutely, the MSI 760 ITX and the Asus GTX760 Mini are both awesome if you are building for a 1080P build in a case with limited graphics card room. It's all you really need. At 1440P and beyond though, I'd probably want to invest a little more money in graphics as the GTX760 is already a little weak there if you want to run high end stuff.
  9. Rammy said:

    If size is your main goal, the Hadron is pretty amazing given what it can pack in. You can even add a slim ODD if you want. The downside is it's expensive for what it is (though I guess so is the Node) and you will lose a little on the performance spectrum, though not a dramatic amount. While I'm on the subject of value, the i7 and 16Gb of ram are certainly justifiable costs, but I'd still be dubious on the Maximus Impact. It's awesome, and I want one, but I know I'd never buy one when you can get a board of similar capability for near to half the price. If you don't need the sound card or some of its other premium features, then you are really just paying for the Maximus brand and a paint job.

    It's probably not terribly relevant as I've covered things fairly specifically, but if you decide you want to rethink things, here's a link that I put together for reference, might be useful.

    I will need to find a cooler that will fit... Maximus Impact isn't much more expensive than other Z87 motherboards here, thus my choice. Thank you again.

    tshrjain said:

    Well it is, but this card is specifically made for compact cases. And gaming experience pretty good too with most of the settings being Ultra High on latest games like BF4 (with HBAO and AA off).

    My current machine has 2x 780Ms, I want to stay in the high-end zone. GTX 780 is the only way to go for me. Thank you for the input however. :)
  10. Well the other issue with the Impact (in the Hadron Air) is that the daughter board will block airflow. Unlike most cases which go front-back. The Hadron Air goes bottom-top, so you are going to blowing air into that structure. It's workable, but it's not ideal.
  11. Rammy said:
    Well the other issue with the Impact (in the Hadron Air) is that the daughter board will block airflow. Unlike most cases which go front-back. The Hadron Air goes bottom-top, so you are going to blowing air into that structure. It's workable, but it's not ideal.



    Over the Impact, which mobo do you recommend? How about CPU cooler?
  12. I'm not sure really. The Impact would still work, the fans on the roof of the Hadron are 120mm so they wouldn't be entirely blocked, and the daughterboard isn't hugely taller than most memory, but I just thought it was info you might want to know in advance.
    In most ITX cases I'd probably go with something like the ASRock Z87E-ITX but it's CPU socket position might cause issues in the Hadron (it's further away from the graphics card) with how close the top fans are to the motherboard. EVGAs own Z87 Stinger is probably what EVGA themselves recommend (surprise surprise) but it's stupidly expensive for what it is. I think the MSI/Gigabyte boards have the CPU socket too close to the graphics card to be worth much consideration really (due to the flipped cooler orientation you'll have a fan right against the graphics card backplate).

    For coolers, most 92mm fan tower coolers should fit. Hyper TX3, Arctic Freezer 13 etc. I'd be pretty confident about the Arctic Freezer fitting on either of the Asus ITX boards or the Stinger, but if you went with the ASRock I think you'd need something like the TX3 as the Arctic Freezer is a bit too thick.
  13. Rammy said:
    I'm not sure really. The Impact would still work, the fans on the roof of the Hadron are 120mm so they wouldn't be entirely blocked, and the daughterboard isn't hugely taller than most memory, but I just thought it was info you might want to know in advance.
    In most ITX cases I'd probably go with something like the ASRock Z87E-ITX but it's CPU socket position might cause issues in the Hadron (it's further away from the graphics card) with how close the top fans are to the motherboard. EVGAs own Z87 Stinger is probably what EVGA themselves recommend (surprise surprise) but it's stupidly expensive for what it is. I think the MSI/Gigabyte boards have the CPU socket too close to the graphics card to be worth much consideration really (due to the flipped cooler orientation you'll have a fan right against the graphics card backplate).

    For coolers, most 92mm fan tower coolers should fit. Hyper TX3, Arctic Freezer 13 etc. I'd be pretty confident about the Arctic Freezer fitting on either of the Asus ITX boards or the Stinger, but if you went with the ASRock I think you'd need something like the TX3 as the Arctic Freezer is a bit too thick.


    The EVGA is 40 pounds more than the Asus and has less features... I will stick with the Asus, as it is only £30 less than the ASRock and it includes a good sound card. Thank you however!

    Any Noctua C-series?

    BTW while I was reading a few forum posts about the Hadron, some people suggested the Silverstone SG07 as a smaller alternative -and less good looking. Any opinions on that?
  14. I'd probably avoid up/down blower coolers as there isn't really anywhere for the air to go. If you want to stick with Noctua then the NH-U9B might be suitable, but it's relatively thick, and compatibility lists will be for it orientated in the conventional way. I reckon it'd be fine on the Impact though.

    Yeah in the UK the ASRock is a little too expensive , I own the Z77 version and it was a bit more reasonably priced. The Asus Z87I-Pro is worth a look though. Similar layout to the Impact, similar advantages/disadvantages and good features, though ~£45 cheaper.

    I quite like the SG07 but it's not really smaller than the Hadron. They have a very similar capacity, but the EVGA has a significantly smaller footprint, I'd imagine it's a much easier proportion to transport for this reason too. The SG07 is also incapable of fitting any tower cooler. It does have a huge fan above the CPU, but you'll still struggle to fit in something like a Noctua C14, though the L12 would work. Everything also applies to the SG08, as they are more or less the same chassis with a different front, both have the same PSU too I think. If I were going for a slightly more conventional ITX case like that, I'd probably pick the Elite 130 or Node depending on what I was trying to do.
  15. Rammy said:
    I'd probably avoid up/down blower coolers as there isn't really anywhere for the air to go. If you want to stick with Noctua then the NH-U9B might be suitable, but it's relatively thick, and compatibility lists will be for it orientated in the conventional way. I reckon it'd be fine on the Impact though.

    Yeah in the UK the ASRock is a little too expensive , I own the Z77 version and it was a bit more reasonably priced. The Asus Z87I-Pro is worth a look though. Similar layout to the Impact, similar advantages/disadvantages and good features, though ~£45 cheaper.

    I quite like the SG07 but it's not really smaller than the Hadron. They have a very similar capacity, but the EVGA has a significantly smaller footprint, I'd imagine it's a much easier proportion to transport for this reason too. The SG07 is also incapable of fitting any tower cooler. It does have a huge fan above the CPU, but you'll still struggle to fit in something like a Noctua C14, though the L12 would work. Everything also applies to the SG08, as they are more or less the same chassis with a different front, both have the same PSU too I think. If I were going for a slightly more conventional ITX case like that, I'd probably pick the Elite 130 or Node depending on what I was trying to do.

    Thanks again. I will have a look at that Asus. Looks like the NH-U9B is the ideal for me. I am getting everything next weekend from Amazon, as they tend to have the best prices and are the only shop I trust -their costumer service is fantastic, unlike Scan or the more expensive Overclockers UK.

    And the final case I want to ask you: Cubitek Mini Cube. I never heard of Cubitek before tbh.
  16. Yeah I'd pretty much agree with you about those retailers. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for Overclockers though, for a smaller retailer they have a huge amount of interesting stock that's pretty specialised, and they gave me a free Bitfenix Prodigy, so I really can't complain (I already did).

    I'd never heard of Cubitek outside of this case either. The MiniCube is kinda cool in that it has some nice features (the mounting for the disc drives is quite clever) and is reasonably small for something that fits a standard sized PSU. Downside is it's not quite as small as it looks (quite a bit bigger than the Hadron Air/SG07/08) and despite seeming quite cheap/no frills, it's actually pretty expensive.

    My vote would still be for the Hadron if you want small+pretty and don't care too much about the price tag, or the Node if you want a full height cooler and aren't too bothered about it being a bit bigger.
  17. Rammy said:
    Yeah I'd pretty much agree with you about those retailers. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for Overclockers though, for a smaller retailer they have a huge amount of interesting stock that's pretty specialised, and they gave me a free Bitfenix Prodigy, so I really can't complain (I already did).

    I'd never heard of Cubitek outside of this case either. The MiniCube is kinda cool in that it has some nice features (the mounting for the disc drives is quite clever) and is reasonably small for something that fits a standard sized PSU. Downside is it's not quite as small as it looks (quite a bit bigger than the Hadron Air/SG07/08) and despite seeming quite cheap/no frills, it's actually pretty expensive.

    My vote would still be for the Hadron if you want small+pretty and don't care too much about the price tag, or the Node if you want a full height cooler and aren't too bothered about it being a bit bigger.


    I used OC UK when I was in Cyprus, as Amazon doesn't delivery electronics outside UK and Cyprus shops prices are crazy overpriced. Never had a problem with them and their forums seems quite good -even saw companies' representatives, like EVGA, in them. However since now I am in the UK and can take advantage of Amazon, will stick with Amazon. The good thing with Amazon, other than the prices, is their costumer support in case of RMAs; they usually send you a new product before you send the defective one back.

    I will go with the Hadron. Thanks a lots! The only downside with the Hadron is that I have to use a stock-cooler 780, which surprisingly are more expensive and the better performing-same price AMD 290X doesn't fit.
  18. The stock cooler on the GTX780 is pretty epic though, in a small case a blower style cooler isn't such a bad thing, and the Titan cooler is the best of that style on the market. EVGA list their own ACX GTX780 as compatible, so you shouldn't be totally limited if you do want to swap the cooler though.
  19. Rammy said:
    The stock cooler on the GTX780 is pretty epic though, in a small case a blower style cooler isn't such a bad thing, and the Titan cooler is the best of that style on the market. EVGA list their own ACX GTX780 as compatible, so you shouldn't be totally limited if you do want to swap the cooler though.


    This is odd... on EVGA's forums, they said that only the stock 780 is compatible.

    I guess my question is whanever I can "survive" with the Node being a bit bigger and get potentially a better CPU cooler and GPU.
  20. Maybe just covering themselves, or referring to the stock size. A lot of coolers add to the height and length, it's pretty hard to cover everything in a compatibility list. Here's a pic of the GTX780 ACX cooler version inside.

    I think the question is whether you "need" the extra performance the Node will bring you. PSU flexibility, better airflow for the graphics card and better CPU cooler support will all contribute to a higher level of system performance, but whether or not you want to trade that against the style and practicality of the Hadron is really up to you. I think personally I'd struggle to justify the cost on the Hadron, even the Node isn't cheap but it's an awful lot cheaper.
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